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Kentucky doctors could get burnout help under bill with Senate approval

By: - February 21, 2023 4:30 pm

Sen. Donald Douglas sponsored the bill aimed at helping physicians with burnout.

This story discusses suicide, burnout and mental health. If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.

The Kentucky Senate unanimously passed a bill aimed at preventing burnout among physicians on Tuesday. 

Republican-backed Senate Bill 12 cleared committee last Wednesday, also unanimously. 

The bill would offer protections for Kentucky doctors who seek mental health help from wellness programs by stating they do not need to report their participation in such a program and they cannot be dismissed for not reporting it. 

The bill does not relieve physicians of reporting conditions that would hinder their judgment, the Lantern previously reported.

Primary sponsor Sen. Donald Douglas, R-Nicholasville, said on the floor that, “Burnout is a long term reaction marked by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization or lack of accomplishment feeling.” 

“Some physicians are exposed to life and death decisions and situations every day,” he said. That strain, he added, can pass from them to others around them. 

Dr. Evelyn Montgomery Jones, the president-elect of the Kentucky Medical Association, previously testified before the Senate Standing Committee on Health Services that COVID-19 has been a “significant driver” behind physician burnout. 

Consequences of such burnout include lower patient satisfaction, Jones said, as well as low morale, high turnover, increased rates of substance abuse and even suicide

“While the stigma surrounding physician’s mental health is multifaceted,” Jones said, one reason is “exposure liability.”  

Reporter McKenna Horsley contributed to this report. 

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Sarah Ladd
Sarah Ladd

Sarah Ladd is a Louisville-based journalist from West Kentucky who's covered everything from crime to higher education. She spent nearly two years on the metro breaking news desk at The Courier Journal. In 2020, she started reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic and has covered health ever since. As the Kentucky Lantern's health reporter, she focuses on mental health, LGBTQ+ issues, children's welfare, COVID-19 and more.

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